Thursday, 19 March 2015

Cambridge Library innovation and enterprise Centre

It's come to light today that Cambridgeshire Council has Big Plans for Cambridge Central Library. These plans were agreed at Tuesday's meeting of the Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee.

The report presented to the committee and the summary of decisions are both available online. I've had a very quick read through, and these are some of what I think are the salient points:
  • '1.4 The Council was approached by Kora to create a Cambridge Library innovation and enterprise Centre (CLEC)'
Kora are these folks, I think.
  • '1.5 Services are aimed at students, young people and adult career changers, those returning to work or growing their business, entrepreneurs, start-ups, corporations, individuals and groups.'
  • '1.6 The creation of CLEC is envisaged as an enhanced offer for customers, creating an opportunity to re-position the Adult Learning and Skills, Careers and Youth Support Services to more prominence' 
OK, so services for people who might want services from a library, and making those services visible...
  • '2.3 Kora would manage a large proportion of this floor, charging for the use of the entrepreneurs lounge, co-working and individual workspaces, and some events.'
Mmm-hmm. Private company managing part of the library space, and charging for it's use? Not so fond of that.
  • '2.4 ... current café would be replaced with a small, high quality coffee-bar style refreshment service' and in 2.9 'tailored to the needs of business users'
Current café is cheap, friendly, welcoming, sort of place parents can take squalling children, or older people can sit all morning, or people without anywhere much else to go can stretch out a cuppa.
  • '2.10 ... it would take 8 weeks to install the enterprise centre on the third floor and require at least one week closure of the whole library (three weeks maximum).'
Unless they find more structural problems like with the major refurb, I guess...
  • '5.1    Resource Implications
  • The Business Plan assumes returns from CLEC or a similar venture.  If it is not developed, further savings in the business plan will be required to make up the shortfall.'
The council's relying on the money from this, so if it doesn't bring in returns that's not good. But private collaborations like this always turn out fine, eh?

Anyway, I'm not perfectly sure what I think, but it seems to have sprung from nowhere rather quickly, which isn't great. And I don't like the idea of private running of library spaces, or of serious charging for space use.

There's a protest organised by the local MP and a  petition.

1 comment:

  1. Further paper from Christine May on the Enterprise Centre here